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Know where to go for care

One of the challenges with feeling sick or being hurt is knowing where to go for care. Do you take ibuprofen and ride it out at home? Do you go to urgent care? How do you know if it’s emergency room (ER) worthy?

If you’re caring for children who are still learning to talk or elderly individuals with existing health conditions, the choice can be even more complicated. The solution? Put nurse advice on speed-dial. And be sure to understand what conditions can be seen at different health care facilities so that you are prepared.

Registered nurses listen closely

As department chair for nurse advice at Vancouver Clinic, I love telling patients about this service. Vancouver Clinic’s nurse advice line is staffed by registered nurses who listen to patients, review their symptoms, and assess the severity of their health concerns. Nurses then help patients determine how soon they need to be seen—and where. Nurse advice provides guidance for all ages—infants to adults.

Our nurse advice line is open only to Vancouver Clinic patients, but many health care organizations offer something similar. Calling nurse advice is a great way to get support for non-life-threatening emergencies. (Individuals who are severely sick or injured should go immediately to the emergency room.)

Urgent care and ER handle different concerns

Understanding what can be seen in urgent care is also helpful. Going to urgent care can be faster and less expensive than going to the hospital. It also helps ensure local hospitals have the capacity to handle true emergencies.

Go to urgent care for:

· Abdominal pain (mild to moderate)
· Acute upper respiratory infections (nasal congestion, sore throat, cough)
· Asthma (mild to moderate)
· Back pain
· COVID-19 testing and symptoms (mild to moderate)
· Dizziness (mild to moderate)
· Eye infections and minor eye injuries
· Fever or flu-like illnesses
· Lacerations or burns (minor)
· Migraines and other mild headaches
· Motor vehicle accidents (minor)
· Pelvic pain or vaginal discomfort
· Sexually transmitted diseases
· Skin problems (rashes, abscess, boils)
· Sprains and minor fractures (broken bones)
· Urinary tract infections
· Vomiting, diarrhea, or dehydration
· Work injuries (workers compensation)


Go to the ER for:

· Allergic reactions (severe)
· Asthma or shortness of breath (severe)
· Acute vision loss and severe eye injuries
· Altered mental state or confusion
· Broken bones with deformity or bones exposed
· Burns (serious)
· Chest pain or pressure
· COVID-19 symptoms (severe)
· Fever in infants under 3 months
· Head trauma or loss of consciousness
· Lacerations (deep or extensive)
· Physical or sexual assault
· Poisonings or drug overdoses
· Seizures
· Severe trauma or injury
· Stroke-like symptoms
· Sudden or severe headache
· Suicidal or homicidal thoughts
· Uncontrolled bleeding
· Vaginal bleeding in pregnancy


Care is nearby

Vancouver Clinic offers extended-hours urgent care at our Salmon Creek 2 location at 2529 NE 139th Street. This location is open until 11 p.m. on weekdays and 7 p.m. on weekends. Vancouver Clinic patients can reach nurse advice by calling 360-882-2778.

Family Nurse Practitioner Katrina Moen enjoys focusing on the holistic health of patients. She helps people of all ages to set and achieve health goals and stay current on preventive care. She believes in helping every patient feel heard, valued, and respected.